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When Cash Gifts During Marriage May Be Included in Equitable Distribution of Assets

Property division between former spouses in divorce proceedings can be a contentious issue, particularly when valuable assets and substantial sums of money are involved.

Florida family law observes the principle of equitable distribution, which means that all marital property must be equally distributed between the spouses. Conversely, non marital property should not be included.

Classifying properties as ‘marital’ or ‘non marital’ is essential before assets may be divided in equitable distribution. Existing Florida Statutes legally define what marital and non marital properties are.

Section 61.075 (6)(b)(2) for instance, treats ‘noninterspousal gifts’ as non marital assets. Examples are gifts from parents to their married children. But not all non-interspousal gifts are treated as non marital assets. The recent case of Roberta Dravis vs. Dean Dravis highlights an exception to the treatment of non-interspousal gifts during marriage.

Dravis v. Dravis

In the case of Dravis, the former spouses were married in January 1990. During the marriage, the wife’s mother gave her cash gifts on birthday and Christmas occasions. The cash gifts amounted to $78,000 when the couple separated. The wife kept the cash gifts in a savings account initially in the name of the spouses, together with other sums of money that the couple received during their marriage.

At the time of their separation, the savings account containing cash gifts and marital proceeds reached $121,196. The trial court considered the cash gift totaling $78,000 as marital assets and included it in the equitable distribution of properties.

On appeal, the appellate court agreed with the trial court saying that while the mother’s cash gifts were non-interspousal gifts, they lost their non-marital character and became marital assets when they co-mingled with marital assets. The court added that the property in question consisted of money, a fungible thing that loses its separate character when it is co-mingled. Under these circumstances, the cash gifts must be included in the equitable distribution of assets.

Equitable Distribution in Your Divorce

If you are contemplating divorce or separation, a family law attorney can help you determine which properties are marital and non-marital, and ensure that you obtain the best possible outcome in the equitable distribution of your marital assets.

In Florida, the Law Firm for Family Law headed by Gary E. Williams has managed over 1,800 cases in a wide range of family law issues such as equitable distribution. Gary Williams is one of 17 Board Certified Experts in Marital and Family Law in Pinellas County and is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator.

We also handle other types of family law cases such as divorce, military divorce, child custody, premarital and post marital agreements, and domestic violence. We welcome your today at (727) 531-8737 to speak to an attorney about your situation.

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